Skip Content
U.S. Flag

Senate Chamber Desks

Overview    |    Seating Plans    |    Desk Occupants    |    The Desks    |    Traditions    |    Timeline

Desk 68 (LXVIII)

TitleDesk, Senate Chamber, 68 (LXVIII)
Artist/Makerafter T. Constantine & Co. (1817 - 1826) 
Date19th or early 20th century
MediumMahogany, mahogany veneer and rosewood veneer (primary)
Dimensions h. 35.37 x  w. 29 x  d. 20.12 in. ( h. 89.85 x  w. 72.7 x  d. 51.43 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number66.00068.001

  • Object Description
  • This mahogany writing desk was made specifically for use in the Senate’s legislative chamber in the U.S. Capitol, and is one of 100 desks that are similarly constructed and used daily by senators. It features two shaped and fluted legs, a bookshelf supported by mahogany spindles, a drawer, a hinged writing top with storage, and a removable wooden tray for writing tools. Decorative enhancements, including figured mahogany veneers and circular roundels, reflect the designs of the original 48 desks created for the Senate in 1819 by the New York cabinetmaking firm T. Constantine & Co. Over the years, many senators have inscribed their names in the interior of the desk drawers, making each drawer a unique way of linking current and past desk users. Desk occupants can change every two years with a new Congress, and are based on seniority.

  • Artist/Maker
  • Thomas Constantine (1791–1849) was born in Derbyshire, England, and he and his family immigrated to New York City when he was two. Between 1806 and 1812, Constantine apprenticed with New York City cabinetmaker John Hewitt, and then served as a journeyman in the same shop between 1812 and 1814. Thomas opened his own cabinet shop in 1815, and in 1817 his firm, T. Constantine & Co., began competing with some of the city’s most notable furniture manufacturers.

    Constantine received his most celebrated commissions as Congress prepared to reoccupy the U.S. Capitol after it had been damaged by fires set by British soldiers in August 1814. In 1818, Constantine received a contract to provide the House of Representatives Chamber with carpets, wall hangings, lamps, 192 chairs, and 51 tables. The following year, Constantine was awarded a contract to furnish the Senate Chamber with 48 mahogany armchairs and desks, as well as other furnishings, lighting, and textiles. Constantine’s brother, John (1796–1845) is known to have assisted with the upholstery of the chairs made for both chambers.

    Although scholars consider Constantine’s work for the House and Senate to be the apex of his relatively brief career, T. Constantine & Co. produced furniture into the 1820s. He closed his furniture store in the summer of 1824 and furniture manufactory in 1826. Today furnishings by T. Constantine & Co. are represented in various collections, including the National Park Service, National Museum of American History, North Carolina Museum of History, U.S. House of Representatives, and Winterthur Museum.

    For more information on Thomas Constantine, see Matthew A. Thurlow, “Aesthetics, Politics, and Power in Early-Nineteenth-Century Washington: Thomas Constantine & Co.’s Furniture for the United States Capitol, 1818-1819" in American Furniture (Chipstone Foundation, 2006).

  • Desk Occupants
  • The senators' names listed in this table include both names inscribed in the desk drawer and, beginning with the 99th Congress, the names of all senators who occupied this desk.

    Order Senator State Party
    1HardingWarren G. HardingOhioR Republican
    2FranceJoseph I. FranceMarylandR Republican
    3KeyesHenry W. KeyesNew HampshireR Republican
    4BursumHolm O. BursumNew MexicoR Republican
    5BrookhartSmith W. BrookhartIowaR Republican
    6FessSimeon D. FessOhioR Republican
    7ButlerWilliam M. ButlerMassachusettsR Republican
    8MetcalfJesse H. MetcalfRhode IslandR Republican
    9GillettFrederick H. GillettMassachusettsR Republican
    10NyeGerald P. NyeNorth DakotaR Republican
    11La FolletteRobert M. La Follette, Jr.WisconsinR, P
    12TownsendJohn G. Townsend, Jr.DelawareR Republican
    13HatfieldHenry D. HatfieldWest VirginiaR Republican
    14LonerganAugustine LonerganConnecticutD Democrat
    15MurrayJames E. MurrayMontanaD Democrat
    16AndrewsCharles O. AndrewsFloridaD Democrat
    17BunkerBerkeley L. BunkerNevadaD Democrat
    18SchwartzHenry H. SchwartzWyomingD Democrat
    19WallgrenMonrad C. WallgrenWashingtonD Democrat
    20MaybankBurnet R. MaybankSouth CarolinaD Democrat
    21HoeyClyde R. HoeyNorth CarolinaD Democrat
    22JohnstonOlin D. T. JohnstonSouth CarolinaD Democrat
    23McMahonBrien McMahonConnecticutD Democrat
    24HollandSpessard L. HollandFloridaD Democrat
    25FeazelWilliam C. FeazelLouisianaD Democrat
    26BroughtonJoseph M. BroughtonNorth CarolinaD Democrat
    27MillerBert H. MillerIdahoD Democrat
    28ChapmanVirgil M. ChapmanKentuckyD Democrat
    29LehmanHerbert H. LehmanNew YorkD Democrat
    30PastoreJohn O. PastoreRhode IslandD Democrat
    31SymingtonStuart SymingtonMissouriD Democrat
    32O'MahoneyJoseph C. O'MahoneyWyomingD Democrat
    33JordanBenjamin E. JordanNorth CarolinaD Democrat
    34EdmondsonJames H. EdmondsonOklahomaD Democrat
    35ByrdHarry F. Byrd, Jr.VirginiaD, I
    36GriffinRobert P. GriffinMichiganR Republican
    37HansenClifford P. HansenWyomingR Republican
    38DoleRobert J. DoleKansasR Republican
    39RothWilliam V. Roth, Jr.DelawareR Republican
    40HelmsJesse HelmsNorth CarolinaR Republican
    41MetzenbaumHoward M. MetzenbaumOhioD Democrat
    42McGovernGeorge S. McGovernSouth DakotaD Democrat
    43D'AmatoAlfonse M. D'AmatoNew YorkR Republican
    44GortonSlade GortonWashingtonR Republican
    45HawkinsPaula HawkinsFloridaR Republican
    46AdamsBrock AdamsWashingtonD Democrat
    47DorganByron L. DorganNorth DakotaD Democrat
    48BoxerBarbara BoxerCaliforniaD Democrat
    49TorricelliRobert G. TorricelliNew JerseyD Democrat
    50MikulskiBarbara A. MikulskiMarylandD Democrat
    51DoleElizabeth DoleNorth CarolinaR Republican
    52UdallTom UdallNew MexicoD Democrat
    53LujánBen Ray LujánNew MexicoD Democrat
  • More about this Object
  • Related Objects
  • Rights and Reproduction
  • Policies, Permissions, and Copyright